UTAH PRUNING TIPS FOR SHRUBS AND TREES
By Pamela Loring. All Trades Staff, Salt Lake City, UT
It’s getting to the time of year when we need to start thinking about maintenance pruning of our woody plants. The most commonly asked questions are when to prune and how to prune. Utah Pruning Tips
However, before you begin pruning, make sure your tools are clean and sharp. Dirty blades can spread disease from plant to plant. And, dull blades can create jagged edges and unsmooth surfaces where fungus, diseases, and other undesirable elements can hide and create problems.
To clean the blades you can use a diluted solution of bleach and soak your tools for just a few minutes. Remember to rinse them thoroughly before using. Use a blade sharpener to sharpen your tools and only sharpen the side that is already angled to receive the edge.
Now, with sharp, clean tools in hand, stand back and observe the entire shrub or tree. Get a good sense of the overall shape the plant has and what you want to achieve. ALWAYS begin pruning by removing the dead, broken and/or diseased branches first. After you have removed those branches and limbs, once again, stand back and observe the shape. Now, look for branches that are crossed and touching other branches, shooting straight up or straight down. Remove these next. Once again, stand back and review your handy work.
This type of pruning is called “Corrective Pruning” and most of the time, that is all the needs to be done. A good rule of thumb is to not take more than 25% to 30% of the plant at any time. It’s called the “root to shoot” ratio. What you see above ground should be reflected below ground, so you don’t want to get this ratio too far out of balance.
When cutting back shrubs that are simply getting to large for the space they are in, it’s important to not just cut back the branches to form a crown. But, rather take a “thinning” approach. You see, where ever you cut the branch, new branches will begin growing around the branch creating a thick crown.
Prune shrubs and trees when corrective pruning is needed,
prune as needed to keep the shrub within its space restraints and prune properly. One of the most important things to remember is, when you prune, the pruning creates new growth. New growth is fragile and susceptible to stresses such as temperature. So, watch the weather so that this tender new growth doesn’t get subjected to upcoming frost and freeze.
Another Utah Pruning Tip, if you prune a diseased limb or branch, disinfect your tool before cutting on other healthy areas of the plant. It’s not a bad idea to keep the diluted bleach solution nearby, just for this reason.